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Southern Minn. Community Rallies To Fight Flooding

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Snaking along a house, a string of strong-armed volunteers are racing a demon.

The LeSueur River jumped a foot and a half overnight, and it’s quickly closing in on the small Blue Earth County city of St. Clair, Minn.

Brad O’Donnell’s home is one of many being threatened.

“We’ve sandbagged everything, at least precautionary. And it’s rising, there’s no doubt and there’s concern, but … half of southern Minnesota is concerned right now,” O’Donnell said.

Sandbag walls circle his and other low-lying homes, as well as the town’s post office and utilities.

About a hundred volunteers are filling sandbags and making pallets. An army of workers are carted from home to home to build the walls of defense.

“Shows how much everybody comes together to save a town,” said resident Andrea Hansen.

With the river just inches from the bottom of the bridge, there’s another concern. If logs and debris get lodged, there would be a sudden rise – and a catastrophic end to a town’s race to tame a wild river.

They learned some valuable lessons from a flood fight four years ago, and since built a wall around the sewage treatment plant.

They will be filling more bags than needed just in case they have to go higher.

More rainfall in the watershed up stream is going to throw off the best projections for when water levels will decrease.

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